As expected, the UK has once again hit its cap on visas for skilled non-European workers for a remarkable third month in a row, increasing the staffing crisis the NHS and other key employers are currently facing.
The monthly quota was reached for the first time in seven years in December 2017 and January 2018.
Last week, the Home Office sent out hundreds of emails to UK employers informing them that their applications for Certificates of Sponsorships required to recruit mostly high skilled workers from outside the EU had been refused because they did not meet the minimum points score set for the February quota.
The cap on skilled worker numbers, introduced by Theresa May as Home Secretary in 2011, functions on an annual quota of 20,700 with a fixed number of spaces available each month. The Home Office confirmed that the minimum salary for a job to qualify as a skilled worker was normally £30,000. However, in December 2017 it was set at £55,000 and in January Tier 2 visa applications for jobs paying less than £46,000 per annum were refused unless they were PhD-level roles or for jobs on the official shortage occupations list. All jobs offered to skilled workers from outside the EU that are not on the official shortage occupation lists have to firstly be advertised in the UK for a set period of time, unless the salary will be at least £159,600.
The points-based immigration system prioritises applications according to their advertised salary, with the minimum annual pay changing according to the number of applicants above the quota and their points rating. This hits several employers, such as the NHS, particularly hard.
While there is no right of appeal following a refusal, applicants are allowed to reapply the next month provided the job advertisement is still valid. However, this is likely to result in the quota being exceeded once again in March.
The next set of quarterly immigration statistics will be published on 22 February 2018, and are likely to show a further fall in net migration, especially from the EU. This means that the statistics are predicted to show evidence of a “Brexodus’, with an accelerating decline in the number of EU nationals coming to work in Britain, while an increasing number return home.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.